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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Book Hour - Muriel Harris Weinstein

This afternoon, Mindy interviewed Muriel Harris Weinstein author of When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat.

Mindy loves the story and the illustrations. Muriel said that the book was very fun to write. It is a secret, but she is 85 (shhh). She came from a family that loved to sing and dance. When Muriel went to school, they had a listening section, where they put kids that were not allowed to sing (and pulled them by their ears to put them there). The teachers thought they were improving the singing of the assembly by separating the people out. She loves to sing now, but she says she wishes she could sing the way Louis Armstrong does.

She was a teenager when she started to love Louis Armstrong's music; all his songs were romantic and made you feel like you had a special someone. He was The Jonas Brothers of her day. He played the trumpet like nobody else. She is surprised to hear that some of the bands now don't know how to play instruments (some do play guitars or drums).

Louis Armstrong allowed all the musicians to come up to the microphone. The jazz band used to play without anyone singing. He encouraged the "birdie" or girl to come up and sing. He inspired everyone to be free to sing and write as they wished. Louis Armstrong created scat - which is "nonsensical syllables" that make no sense. He did it first when he forgot the words, such as when he dropped the sheet music and didn't have time to pick up the sheets. It can be called "Doodling with your voice" or "Using your voice as an instrument."

Muriel got into writing books for kids recently, after writing text books and more. She used to teach school, where they did a lot of creative writing. She has another book coming out, a chapter book, that she is working on now.

Muriel read her book When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat live on Mindy's show.

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